Huskers headed to the World Series
The 14th-seeded Nebraska softball team makes its seventh appearance in the Women's College World Series this week, opening the tournament at 11 a.m. on Thursday against 11th-seeded Washington.
Nebraska, the lowest remaining seed of the eight teams who advanced to Oklahoma City, earned a spot in the field by winning two of three games against No. 3 Oregon in last week's NCAA Super Regional in Eugene, Ore. Playing in its first NCAA Super Regional in school history, the Huskers snapped the Ducks' nation-leading 24-game home winning streak on Saturday, then rebounded from a disappointing 11-inning game two loss on Sunday to earn a 4-2 victory over the Ducks in the rubber match of the series. With the win, Nebraska advanced to its seventh Women's College World Series in school history, its first since 2002 and its third under 21st-year Head Coach Rhonda Revelle.
The Huskers have relied on pitching, defense and timely hitting to advance this far. Nebraska boasts the nation's ninth-best ERA at 1.78, a mark that ranks fourth among the eight-team Women's College World Series field. Behind the pitching staff, the Husker defense ranks 35th nationally with a .970 fielding percentage, and Nebraska has turned a nation-leading 48 double plays, 26 more than any other team in Oklahoma City and as many as the next two highest teams combined (ASU and Washington).
From a hitting standpoint, Nebraska is batting .312 (24-for-77) with runners on base in the NCAA Tournament and .339 (19-for-56) with runners in scoring position. The Huskers have produced 18 of their 31 RBIs with two outs, while plating 20 of their 33 postseason runs with two outs (61 percent).
Junior right-hander Tatum Edwards, the 2013 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, has been outstanding in the postseason. She has started five of Nebraska's six NCAA Tournament games, throwing a complete game each time, including one shutout. Edwards is 4-1 with 1.62 ERA in 39.0 postseason innings. Included in her four victories are two wins over No. 13 Stanford and one win over third-ranked Oregon. As good as Edwards was, it was freshman Emily Lockman who earned the series-clinching victory for NU. Lockman allowed two first-inning runs and nothing the rest of the way in a complete-game victory at No. 3 Oregon in game three of the super regional in her postseason debut.
Offensively, senior Brooke Thomason has collected seven hits, including one double and two homers, and driven in 10 runs in six NCAA Tournament games. Freshman Alicia Armstrong leads NU with a .474 average in the postseason (9-for-19), while senior Gabby Banda owns an 11-game hitting streak.
Nebraska takes on a Pac-12 opponent for the sixth consecutive game in its Women's College World Series opener, facing off against No. 11 seed Washington. The Huskies are 43-15 this season and have breezed through the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Washington is 5-0 in the postseason, outscoring its opponents 15-2, including a two-game sweep at No. 6 Missouri in the NCAA Super Regional. Nebraska and Washington share 11 common opponents this season in Arizona, Cal, Florida State, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State and Stanford. The Huskers posted a 15-8 record against that group, while the Huskies went 12-7.
Offensively, Washington is hitting .309 as a team while averaging 5.9 runs per game. The Huskies rank among the top 30 offenses nationally in scoring (23rd), average (24th) and slugging percentage (28th). Washington has scored two runs or less in four of its five NCAA Tournament games, averaging 3.0 runs per game in the postseason.
Individually, Victoria Hayward is one of seven Washington regulars hitting above .300. She leads the team with a .380 average, five triples and 21 stolen bases, while adding six doubles, five homers and 21 RBIs. Kaitlin Inglesby is hitting .361 with eight doubles and team-high totals of 11 homers and 60 RBIs, ranking 31st nationally in RBIs. Hooch Fagaly is batting .348 with 10 homers, 47 RBIs and a team-high 41 walks. Kylee Lahners is hitting .306 with nine homers and 42 RBIs, while Kelli Suguro boasts a .304 average. Inglesby, Hayward and Fagaly were each first-team all-region and All-Pac-12 selections.
Defensively, Washington is allowing an average of 2.7 runs per game, but the Huskies have allowed just two runs in their five NCAA Tournament games (0.4 runs per game). UW boasts the nation's second-best fielding percentage at .981. The staff owns a 2.56 ERA that ranks 58th nationally, the lowest ranking of any team in the Women's College World Series field and the only team ERA that doesn't rank among the top 40 nationally.
Inglesby and Bryana Walker have split the majority of the innings for Washington this season. Inglesby is 22-7 with a 1.87 ERA in 168.1 innings. She has thrown 12 complete games among her 18 starts, tossing four shutouts while striking out 130 and limiting opposing hitters to a .228 average. Walker is 19-7 on the year with a 2.81 ERA in a team-high 172.0 innings. She has started a team-high 33 games and struck out 196 batters. Opponents are hitting just .217 against her, but have homered 25 times. Kasey Stanchek (2-1, 3.92 ERA in 30.1 IP) and Jocelyn Cater (0-0, 9.00 ERA in 4.2 IP) round out the Washington staff.
Washington leads the all-time series with Nebraska 8-3, including a 2-0 advantage in the NCAA Tournament and a 1-0 record at the Women's College World Series. The Huskies have won four straight in the series and eight of the last nine overall. Each of the 11 all-time meetings have come with Head Coach Rhonda Revelle in the Husker dugout, and she is 1-4 against Washington Head Coach Heather Tarr. Washington eliminated the Huskers from the 1998 Women's College World Series with a 3-1 victory, and the Huskies, led by Tarr in her first season, handed Nebraska a 7-6 loss in the 2005 NCAA Lincoln Regional.
The teams last met twice during the opening month of the 2012 season. Washington shut out the Huskers, 4-0, in the season opener for both teams, before earning a 6-3 win two weeks later. Kaitlin Inglesby earned both victories, tossing a two-hit shutout in the first win and allowing just one earned run in game two. She posted a 0.50 ERA in the two games, allowing only six hits while striking out 11 in 13.0 innings. Inglesby also went 2-for-5 at the plate with a home run and two RBIs. Taylor Smith went 3-for-6 in the two games with three RBIs.
For Nebraska, Ashley Hagemann took the loss in both games. The Huskers hit just .122 against Inglesby, led by a 2-for-5 performance from Gabby Banda that included a home run. Taylor Edwards and Courtney Breault each finished 1-for-4 in the two games, while the rest of Nebraska's current roster combined to go 0-for-20.
Nebraska is making its seventh official trip to the Women's College World Series, not including its 1985 runner-up finish which was vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. The Huskers have won at least one game in each of their first six trips to the WCWS, finishing no worse than a tie for fifth place each time. Nebraska is 8-12 (.400) all-time in the Women's College World Series, including a 3-3 record in its first game of the tournament.
Nebraska drew three walks last weekend against Oregon in the NCAA Super Regional, increasing its season total to 206. The Huskers have set a school record for most walks in a season for the second consecutive year, after walking 204 times in 2012. Four Huskers have drawn at least 20 walks this season, led by senior Gabby Banda's school-record-tying 40 walks.
Senior Gabby Banda has hit safely in 11 consecutive games, the longest hitting streak of her career and tied with freshman Alicia Armstrong for the longest hitting streak by a Husker this season. Banda is hitting .394 during the streak (13-for-33) with seven runs, four RBIs and four walks. During the hitting streak, Banda has raised her season batting average 28 points, from .256 before the streak to its current mark of .284.
Junior right-hander Tatum Edwards earned a complete-game victory at No. 3 Oregon last Saturday, snapping the Ducks' nation-leading 24-game home winning streak and handing Oregon its first home loss of the season. The win was her 30th of the season, as she became only the fourth Husker to post a 30-win season. She joined All-Americans Jenny Voss (40 wins in 1998) and Peaches James (37 wins in 2004), along with Ashley Hagemann (31 wins in 2011) as members of Nebraska's 30-win club. With a 30-9 record, Edwards ranks 10th nationally in wins this season. She has nearly doubled her career victory total entering the year, as she won 16 games her first two seasons combined. Edwards is one win away from tying Hagemann for the most wins ever by a Husker junior.
Nebraska has scored 33 runs through its first six games of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, an average of 5.5 runs per game. The 33 runs the Huskers have scored this postseason are already the highest total any Nebraska team has ever produced in a single NCAA Tournament. The previous record had been 28 runs from the 2000 Huskers, who went 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament.
Fueled by 33 runs in its six NCAA Tournament games, Nebraska has scored 307 runs this season, becoming only the fourth team in school history to score 300 runs in a season. Nebraska has scored 300 runs in a season for the first time since 2000, and that season it took NU 73 games to score 312 runs. This year's team has nearly matched that output, scoring 307 runs in only 59 games. The Husker offense, under the direction of fifth-year hitting coach Diane Miller, has posted three of the six highest run totals in school history the past three seasons, an especially impressive feat considering the NCAA's recent policy allowing teams to play a maximum of 56 regular-season games.
Nebraska earned a spot in Oklahoma City this weekend by winning two of three games at No. 3 Oregon last weekend, handing the Ducks their only two home losses of the season. Nebraska won game won 5-2 behind a complete-game effort from junior Tatum Edwards, who allowed only one earned run, and a fifth-inning grand slam from senior Brooke Thomason. In game two, Nebraska was three outs away from a victory before Oregon rallied to tie the game in the seventh en route to a 4-3 win in 11 innings. In game three, freshman Emily Lockman allowed only two runs in a complete-game effort, and classmate Alicia Armstrong drove in the game-winning run with an RBI infield single in the top of the third inning.
NU is making its seventh NCAA Women's College World Series appearance in school history and first since 2002.
The Huskers won their first NCAA Regional title since 2002 this year and their first NCAA Super Regional title ever.
Nebraska's 45 wins this season are its most since 2004 (45) and tie for the fifth-most victories in school history.
NU's non-conference schedule was the toughest in the nation according to the NCAA RPI.
NU's roster features seven freshmen, tying for the most freshmen in Coach Revelle's 21 seasons (also 2008).
NU's starting lineup has featured at least three freshmen in every game, including 16 games with five freshmen.
The freshmen have combined for 36 extra-base hits, the eighth-highest total by a freshman class in NU history.
Nebraska has allowed one run or less in 29 of its 59 games this season, including 16 shutouts.
Gabby Banda needs one walk to break a four-way tie and own the school record outright for walks in a season (41).
Courtney Breault enters the Women's College World Series with 99 career RBIs.
Tatum Edwards needs one more win to tie for the most victories ever by a Husker junior (31).
The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers, including twice in 2013.
Head Coach Rhonda Revelle has won 799 games at Nebraska, one shy of 800.
The Big Ten has two teams competing in the WCWS (Nebraska and Michigan) for the first time since 2001.
Nebraska has played five consecutive games against Pac-12 teams in the NCAA Tournament, going 4-1.
The Huskers had lost seven straight NCAA Tournament games to Pac-12 teams and been just 7-19 all-time against the league in the postseason before its success in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The Big Ten as a conference is 6-2 against the Pac-12 in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
One more home run from Brooke Thomason would give Nebraska three players with double-digit home runs in the same season for the first time in school history. It would also give NU three players with 10 doubles and 10 homers in the same season for the first time in school history.
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